Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's Transmetropolitan is nearly 20 years old, and the science fiction story of a journalist who wages truth-war on scumbag politicians 200 years from now could not be more relevant than it is today. Read the rest
Matt Taibbi is one of our decade's best observers of corruption and abuses of power, combining careful research with flamboyant, HS Thompson-esque verbal pyrotechnics, an absolute gift for coinages (Goldman Sachs will never fully shed his description of the firm as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money"), matched by real insight into the American political psyche. Read the rest
Matt Taibbi is on fire as ever in Rolling Stone, analyzing the weird relationship between Donald Trump and the media: he does politics in just the way that cable news reports on it: disjointedly, without empathy or nuance or complexity. Unlike polished American politicos, Donald Trump is a TV watcher, and he knows how to speak to his people. Read the rest
Matt Taibbi writes that the recent blow-up is about much more than the killing of Freddie Gray. Beyond that murder, there is a complex legal infrastructure that encourages — and covers up — police violence.
Most Americans have never experienced this kind of policing. They haven't had to stare down the barrel of a service revolver drawn for no reason at a routine stop. They haven't had their wife and kids put on an ice-cold sidewalk curb while cops ran their license plate. They haven't ever been told to get the fuck back in their car right now, been accused of having too prominent a "bulge," had their dog shot and their kids handcuffed near its body during a wrong-door raid, watched their seven-year-old dragged to jail for sitting on a dirt bike, or dealt with any of a thousand other positively crazy things nonwhite America has come to expect from an interaction with law enforcement. "It's everywhere," says Christen Brown, who as a 24-year-old city parks employee was allegedly roughed up and arrested just for filming police in a parking lot. "You can be somewhere minding your business and they will find their best way to fuck with you, point blank. It's blatant disrespect."
Photo: A demonstrator raises his arms as he faces law enforcement officers near Baltimore Police Department Western District during a protest against the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, in Baltimore April 25, 2015. Thousands of people marched peacefully through downtown Baltimore on Saturday to protest the unexplained death of the 25-year-old black man in police custody but pockets of violence erupted when a small group smashed windows and threw bottles at officers. Read the rest
While you contemplate Eric Holder's track record of surveilling, intimidating and indicting journalists, remember that he also invented the Too Big to Jail doctrine, the failed idea that the answer to breathtaking criminal activity by gigantic banks is big fines, not criminal prosecutions. Read the rest
There were 800 convictions in the S&L crisis, but the DOJ hasn't prosecuted a single banker involved in the financial crisis; as Matt Taibbi points out in the brilliant, essential book The Divide, if shutting down a huge bank would impose too many costs on society, then why don't prosecutors insist that the banks be split up as a condition of not dropping the entire C-suite into the deepest dungeon in the nation? Read the rest
Student debt and tuition hikes: destroying the lives of America's children: Matt Taibbi takes a long, in-depth look at the scandal of student loans and tuition hikes, a two-headed parasite sucking America's working class and middle class dry as they plunge their children into a lifetime of ballooning debt in the vain hope of a better, college-educated future.
Gizmo with a weight added for extra heft: The IDSA Materials and Process Selection Blog discovered a surprise inside a Pinnacle Video Transfer gadget: a weight seemingly added for the sole purpose of making the device heavier and less "cheap"-feeling.
Ten years Mexican cops get themselves chipped: The government of Mexico is RFID-tagging police in order to combat record high levels of kidnapping and disappearances. About 170 officers are said to have been subcutaneously tagged in their arms with microchips about the size of a rice grain of rice. The chip grants them access to a crime database and becomes a tracking tool in case they're kidnapped. Read the rest
The memo -- requiring Brooklyn cops to continue their racist, brutal stop-and-frisk campaign to make minor drug busts -- is required reading for beat officers.
Last year, the NYPD made over 8,000 minor marijuana possession arrests. As Matt Taibbi documents in The Divide, these arrests are part of a racist, all-out war on young people of color. Even if the DA won't prosecute the people that Brooklyn cops take into custody, the busts will continue to beef up the department's arrest statistics.
DA Thompson's order really doesn't eliminate that many possession arrests. His memo stated that those smoking in public (especially around children), 16-17-year-old offenders (who will be placed into a diversion program) and people with existing criminal records will still be prosecuted. This just leaves mainly the truly harmless: recreational users.
But the War on Drugs is every bit as essential to the NYPD as the War on Terror, and the NYPD (with new chief Bill Bratton's blessing) will continue to make meaningless arrests -- arrests made even more meaningless by DA Thompson's announcement.
If nothing else, this ensures the sort of job security that's usually only touted in sarcastic tones by the deeply cynical. According to the New York Times, arresting recreational users is full-time work for Brooklyn cops.
One year ago today
NSA leaker Edward Snowden asks Russia for asylum, issues statement via Wikileaks: A Russian consular official confirms Edward Snowden has asked for political asylum in Russia.
Five years ago today
Taibbi on Goldman Sachs: "Planet-eating Death Star," "Vampire squid": Matt Taibbi's epic Rolling Stone piece this month, he describes the financial firm as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity"; and "the planet-eating Death Star of political influence".
Ten years ago today 10 Internet patents that are going DOWN: EFF has picked its list of ten dumb-and-bustable Internet patents after a public competition, and we're saddling up to gather invalidating prior art we can submit to the US Patent and Trademark Office to have them struck down. Read the rest
Matt Taibbi is touring the States with his new book, The Divide, which is on my must-read list right after I finish Capital in the 21st Century. Rick Kleffel caught up with him for his San Francisco NPR show and posted the interview, along with his notes (which includes links to his previous interviews with Taibbi).
Taibbi was, until recently, the best reason to read Rolling Stone: a finance writer for the 99%, whose incandescent and meticulous columns were terrifying and enraging by turns.
Rolling Stone's loss is Pierre Omidyar's gain. Matt Taibbi is joining First Look Media, the same organization where Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras are on the masthead at The Intercept-- but Taibbi will lead his own publication focused on financial and political corruption. The new magazine does not yet have a name or a precise launch date.
GOP power-brokers have raised a $50M war-chest to fight the nomination of "fools" to GOP seats in the upcoming mid-term elections. Effectively, the Republican big-business-friendly establishment has declared war on the Tea Party, in an effort to ensure donors that the slate will not be full of what Matt Taibbi calls "a bottomless pit of brainless Bachmanns and Cruzes and Santorums, all convinced our Harvard-educated president is a sleeper-cell Arab and that Satan is a literal being intent on conquering Nebraska with U.N. troops."
Taibbi is, as always, fucking incandescent on the subject. He points out the delicious irony of svengalis like Karl Rove and Dick Armey -- who put GW Bush in the White House by gleefully pandering to the ignorant and prejudiced with "faith-based initiatives" to bring in "the nuts" (as Rove calls evangelicals when he thinks he's in private) and Swift-Boating -- now having to keep those people from derailing the party and scaring off all the millionaires and billionaires.
If they're going to keep on donating to the GOP, they need to be assured that the party's elected reps understand that gay marriage and no-abortion-for-rape-victims are just distracting side-shows to win votes, and should be set aside once in office to pursue the serious business of looting the nation and spying on everyone to prevent any kind of popular uprising. Read the rest
Tomorrow's Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.
— J.P. Morgan (@jpmorgan) November 14, 2013
When JP Morgan's Twitter account announced last month that "VC Jimmy Lee" take questions from the net with the #AskJPM hashtag, they should have been able to predict what was coming next: a stream of hilarious, vicious critiques of late-stage capitalism, banksterism, and financial corruption. One day later, the Q&A was cancelled. The astonishing thing isn't how predictable this was, but how anyone at JP Morgan failed to see it coming -- the greatest irony isn't the questions raised, it was the hubris in thinking that these questions wouldn't be raised at all.
The fiasco is being called one of the worst social media disasters in corporate history, and has spawned lots of creativity, including this video of Stacy Keach and a sock puppet performing the tweets and a Matt Taibbi-sponsored haiku contest. Read the rest
In Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi takes a long, in-depth look at the scandal of student loans and tuition hikes, a two-headed parasite sucking America's working class and middle class dry as they plunge their children into a lifetime of ballooning debt in the vain hope of a better, college-educated future. The feds keep backing student loans, and the states keep cutting university funding, so the difference is made up by cranking up tuition and shifting the burden to future grads. Meanwhile, the laws that prohibit discharging student debt in bankruptcy, combined with ballooning default penalties (your $30K debt can rocket to $120K if you have a heart-attack and are bedridden and can't make payments) and the most ruthless, unsupervised, criminal collection agencies means that tens of millions of Americans are trapped in a nightmare that never ends -- student debt being the only debt that can be taken out of your Social Security check. Matt Taibbi is a national treasure, and Rolling Stone does us all a service by keeping him working.